Even Your Board Members Are Changing Their Thinking!

By John Pearson

Judges 2:10 is a good wake-up call for boards: “Eventually that entire generation died and was buried. Then another generation grew up that didn't know anything of God or the work he had done for Israel.”

Whether your board has term limits, or not, all boards struggle with passing the mission/vision/values/history/strategy/culture baton from one year—and one board meeting—to the next. Some members miss meetings. Other members are new. News flash: even some members forget!

I’ll be at a board planning retreat next month and all of us are reading Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, by Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and Chris Fussell. (We’re also reading the headlines: Orlando, San Bernardino, Brexit, Supreme Court decisions…and a lot more.)

We’ll be drilling down on the book’s implications for our roles as board members—such as why moving from “complicated to complex” will require a “robust and resilient” response, per McChrystal. We’ll also address this year’s book within the context of the last two books we’ve read:
The Attacker's Advantage: Turning Uncertainty Into Breakthrough Opportunities, by Ram Charan
Boards That Lead: When to Take Charge, When to Partner, and When to Stay Out of the Way, by Ram Charan, Dennis Carey and Michael Useem.

I get it! Some of your board members might wince or whine at the thought of reading yet one more book. Team of Teams is not easy reading (300 pages), but if the title temps you, be assured that every chapter is compelling.

When’s the last time your board has read a book together? Trust me—as you steward your ministry’s future, one book a decade is not enough. Leaders are readers.

My friend and mentor, George Duff, served 27 years as president of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce—and he quoted to me (often!) this pithy rationale for lifelong learning—and the speed of change, "You're Leading a Parade!"

If your board has a reading culture—this reminder: Your new board members didn’t read the last book. Some of your board members have forgotten what the last book said. Perhaps several board members now disagree with what the last book said.

So…yes, keep reading to determine what the board should know and do—so you’re thinking, praying and reflecting to spiritually discern God’s direction for your important ministry.

QUESTION: What’s the next book our board should read together?



This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.